Posts Tagged ‘patience’

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.

Remember when you’re talking to the Man upstairs

That just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care

Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers”

“Unanswered Prayers”- Garth Brooks, Pat Alger, Larry Bastian, 1990

For those that don’t know, the song is about a man running into his old high school crush at a football game. He remembers praying for God to bring them together, how he wanted to be with her, praying so desperately that he swore he would never ask for anything again, but, alas, it was not meant to be, although he continued to think about her over they years. Finally, seeing her after all that time, he realized that his wife had been meant for him, that God didn’t grant his request because that girl had not been the right one. (Now, this is a little ironic, because although Garth Brooks said that this song was based on true events, he and his then- wife ended up divorcing and he remarried Trisha Yearwood. Sorry to kill mood of the song, but there you are.)

Even though the true-life version of this song didn’t end very well, the concept is a good one. I can’t count how many times throughout my entire life that I’ve prayed for something that I really wanted, something that I was convinced would be the best thing for me, only to have silence on the other end. Boyfriends, jobs, kids, almost nothing has happened as I have planned it, and most of it has turned out much better than I have ever planned.

I’m going through this situation now, and part of the reason I’m writing this blog is to reassure myself that even though I can’t see it right now, God has His own plan. I’ve been struggling with a part of my life for some time now. I apologize for being cryptic, hopefully later I can explain all, but right now I really can’t. (We’re all healthy and nothing bad is happening, so please don’t worry.) I have an idea of how I want things to go, I’ve spent a lot of time fantasizing about how much better things would be if only… But so far, things haven’t gone the way I think they should, which can be incredibly frustrating. Mr. Marty Man just reminded me of another (paraphrased) line from a play, “God hears all prayers. Sometimes, the answer is no.”

Now, let’s get something straight. God is not a fairy godmother. He is not a wish-granting genie. We are sometimes inclined to think that way, that if we only ask God for what we want, we will get it. Mega-church preachers, like Joel Osteen, preach that message, which, with their millions of dollars, is easy for them to say. As we wait for those very specific things, we are disappointed many times. Does God want us to be happy, to be prosperous? Yes, absolutely! He loves us and wants us to be the best that we can be, but maybe not in the way that we think. Rich does not equal happy. Many millionaires are miserable. Job success does not equal happy. Prosperous means different things for different people. Contentment equals happiness, and contentment doesn’t equal the same things for everyone.

In scripture, we’re told to ask for the things we want, but that God will grant us the things we need. It’s a little confusing sometimes, I know. In my mind, I’m thinking: I’m a good person. I go to church, I pray, I read my devotional, and I try to live my life the best I can, and I’ve worked for it. WHY hasn’t (this) happened??? God doesn’t work like that. Sometimes there’s a lesson that I need to learn, or somebody that needs my help before I move on, or that was definitely not the right boy to marry, or going to this event would have meant that I missed something that I loved even more. We won’t always know the reasons why our life takes certain directions. As someone who is been diagnosed OCD, I like to know not only what is happening, but why it is happening and the timeline involved, but, again, God doesn’t work that way. We need to learn patience. I HATE patience, by the way. I never pray for it, figuring that I don’t want any extra doses, but it is necessary for a good character.

Why? Why does God do this? Well, think about it. As a child, did your parents give in to your every whim? I hope not, I really hope not. Good parents know that that giving a child everything he/she demands makes a spoiled, entitled child. The same is true for adults. Just because we’re grown doesn’t mean we’re mature. We all know people who seem to be mentally stuck in middle school and live by the principle of self-gratification. Crimes are committed and lives are destroyed because people think they should have something and they decide to get it by any means necessary, throwing away morals, compassion for others, and their sense of right and wrong. Getting everything that we want sets a dangerous precedent and teaches us that our desires are more important than the basic rights of others. God knows this, hence the unanswered prayers.

When I was in my teens and early twenties, I thought I knew it all, like every other young adult. But the older I get, the more I realize that I have so much to learn, that every situation I’m in, whether it makes me happy and seems to fall perfectly into place or whether it leaves me crying in frustration or rage, teaches me something and that I will never know it all.

God doesn’t give us a perfectly mapped-out life. Instead, it’s like one of those Choose Your Own Adventure Books, every choice you make leads to different circumstances. Even those who don’t believe in God can agree with that. If I didn’t decide to go to that party, I never would have met her. If I didn’t work at that camp, I never would have changed my major. Our choices and how we deal with the good or bad consequences of those choices help to design our characters, our personalities. God doesn’t make us do anything, He provides opportunities and we have to decide what we want to do. I’ve learned to pray and to listen to my intuition, trusting that God will lead me where I need to be. It may not be what I have envisioned, I still don’t have a writing contract, but I have faith, however shaky it can be at times, that He will answer my prayers in one way one another. It’s just that sometimes, the answer is, “No”.

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It didn’t feel like a very good parenting week for me last week.

I’m writing about this because Youngest Child is going through Eleven right now. He’s the baby of the family and we’ve all spoiled him somewhat along the way, which is not helping the situation right now. I really think it’s a mixture of new hormones, a thirst for independence, and the feeling of wanting to do their own thing conflicting with the desire to safely stay a little kid. It’s an age of separation, not the Big Separation (stay tuned for that this summer when Oldest Child leaves for college), but the first realization that one day, Mom and Dad will no longer call the shots and that the Eleven will be on his own in a big, scary world. What ever the reason, it’s driving me freaking nuts.

It turns out that all three sons chose the Age of Eleven to start their mutiny against the tyranny that is us, the parental units. (I am intentionally capitalizing Eleven, seeing as how it has earned its title.) I don’t know why Eleven is the age of rebellion. All I know is that from birth until then, all three were normal kids; sweet, loving, mischievous, and in occasional need of correction. Then they turned Eleven. All of a sudden, they started getting sneaky, mouthy, defiant, and downright no fun to be around. They don’t stay this way; it fades off and they turn into older, more lovable, versions of themselves by the time they turned twelve, but for several months, it makes me wonder if there is, perhaps, a changeling in the house.

Youngest Child has been building up to this, his protestations over chores and homework growing more vocal and obnoxious over the last few months. He’s trying to be very cool around his friends, even talking in a fake deep voice out in public. He wants to be taken seriously as an older kid very badly, but doesn’t want any of the responsibility that comes with it. He uses exorbitant amounts of hair gel. Yet, this is the same child who snuggles up with me every weekend morning on the couch and before bed every night, still needing his mama’s hugs, kisses and scritch-scratch on his skinny little back. It blows my mind.

I have two perspectives of this right now. One perspective comes from looking at my older boys. Oldest and Middle Child both went through this. We lived. They got through it. Nobody died, nobody was disowned, and the boys have grown into wonderful young men who I am very proud of, in spite of their occasional attempt to push some boundaries. Remembering their struggles with Eleven, I am encouraged that Youngest Child will also pull through unscathed by all of this, even when Mama loses her patience and yells at him. Yes, it’s very true. I try so hard to be patient and calm, and for the most part, I do, but when the calmness has failed and I get defiance and/or rudeness in return, the Sicilian mama, who communicates in shouting, comes out. It makes me feel like crap afterward. I should say that no matter what, I NEVER belittle my kids or call them names. I do, however, tend to lecture rather than listen as much as I should, something I’m working on.

The other perspective comes from looking at some of the students that I have taught over the years, kids who mouth off to their parents and end up on the road to trouble. Youngest Child has never been in trouble at school, he’s a straight-A student as a matter of fact, and very well-behaved there, but every little bit of defiance and rudeness brings flashes of those kids to my mind. Then the guilt of spending all of my time with other people’s children all day comes creeping in, making it a vicious party of negativity, and I curse myself for being the catalyst of his bad behavior.

Then I take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and repeat over and again, “I’m doing the best I can. This, too, shall pass.” I let us both cool down, then I go and hug him tight, enjoying the feel of his little stick arms around me, silently bemoaning the fact that I can no longer rest my chin on top of his head because he’s almost as big as I am. He’s growing up, he’s finding his own way and this stage will, indeed, pass one day. Until then, I need patience and understanding. And love. Lots and lots of love. And a little wine.

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